Day 201: keys to the kingdom

Isaiah 21:1-10 Elam and media comprised the Persian Empire that conquered Babylon in the late eighth century BC. Babylon had lived luxuriantly and complacently and, therefore, was ill prepared for such an attack. The prophet watched for messengers on horseback to bring news of Babylon’s fall-news that finally arrived. The image of Babylon’s defeat figures prominently in the Book of Revelation, where Babylon symbolizes all the oppressors and idolaters throughout the history of salvation.


Ch 21:11-17 A brief prophecy against Dumah, which probably refers to Edom, reminds through a riddle that punishment (night) must follow prosperity and peace (morning). This prophecy against Arabia warns its citizens will face a similar fate in the near future.


Ch 22:1-14 This prophecy warned the people of Jerusalem against excessive self-satisfaction over the failure of Sennacherib’s siege in 701 BC. The people soon forgot that it was God’s intervention that actually saved the city; instead of repentance and conversion, they went back to their sinful and selfish lifestyles. They lived as pagans, who ate gluttonously and acted on their lustful desires.


Ch 22:15-25 Shebna was an ambitious official in the court of King Hezekiah who was replaced by Eliakim, son of Hilkiah. It was Eliakim who attempted to negotiate peace with the Assyrians during the siege of Jerusalem. He functioned as the chief steward of the king by managing both his household and the affairs of the court. This image of the key appears in the Gospel as Christ gave Peter the power of the keys with a similar authority over his Church (cf. Mt 16:19). (CCC 553, 567, 981, 1444)


Nahum 3:1-19 Nineveh’s sins and brutality toward the Jews were a cause for Nahum’s satirical gloating over its destruction given the atrocities it heaped on the Jewish People. The Assyrian king was a special target of Nahum’s sarcasm over the Assyrians’ coming defeat.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


  • One of the things that is going to happen, obviously, as we are talking, reading, and hearing about the PROPHETS is that we are going to get a LITTLE BIT CONFUSED because there is imagery that is used that makes us think we have no idea what is going on

  • In Isaiah 21:1, “The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on, it comes from the desert, from a terrible land.”

  • So basically it begins by talking about Elam and Media and all these other places

  • What is EXACTLY happening here??

  • That is a great question!!

  • What’s happening is Isaiah is prophesying about how PERSIA will march against BABYLON

  • This is a FORETELLING situation, not a FORTHTELLING situation

  • At this point, Assyria has not yet come in

  • Remember Sennacherib?

  • He was the leader of the Assyrian army and came up against King Hezekiah of Judah (SOUTHERN KINGDOM)

  • King Hezekiah prays and Assyria goes away

  • Babylon came next and they brought all of the people into EXILE

  • Here is Isaiah prophesying about those coming from PERSIA to make war on BABYLON

  • So when he says, “Go up, Elam, lay siege, O Media…”

  • Elam and Media are the ancient names for the people of PERSIA

  • It can feel like it’s all over the board

  • But if we have some sense of context, here is the prophecy in Isaiah Chs 21 and 22 about PERSIA coming up against BABYLON

  • AND YET…

  • It also prophesied the FALL OF BABYLON

  • It talks about the MAN IN THE WATCHTOWER, the one who watches and declares what he sees

  • Isaiah 21:6, “Go, set a watchman, let him announce what he sees.”

  • As Christians, one of our roles is to be THOSE SET ON WATCHTOWERS

  • Oftentimes as Christians, we can be pointed out as making a big deal about little things

  • Or picking a lot of fights with our culture

  • AND YET…

  • One of the roles of the PROPHET is to be that person on the WATCHTOWER

  • We are not making stuff up, but we are called to DECLARE WHAT WE SEE

  • If your role is to be the WATCHTOWER for your family, you are not causing problems to your family just by pointing out here are the dangers in and around our family

  • If you are the pastor of a parish, just pointing out the dangers in the parish and in the dangers in the culture right now, you are not creating those dangers, you have to DECLARE THEM

  • So many people have been OVERWHELMED, OVERRUN, and DESTROYED because there was not someone on the watchtower TO POINT OUT AND DECLARE WHAT THEY SAW

  • That serves as a REMINDER TO US

  • Babylon is fallen in Isaiah Ch 21

  • Isaiah Ch 22 is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT for many reasons

  • It is an ORACLE CONCERNING THE VALLEY OF VISION

  • What is the Valley of Vision?

  • Great question, camper!

  • THE VALLEY OF VISION IS JERUSALEM!!

  • Jerusalem is built on a mountain and there are valleys that go around the city

  • When Isaiah is prophesying concerning the VALLEY OF VISION, he is prophesying concerning JERUSALEM ITSELF

  • KEEP THAT IN MIND

  • Jerusalem is STILL THERE and it STILL EXISTS

  • They have not YET been brought into exile

  • All throughout Isaiah’s lifetime, Jerusalem (Fr. Mike said Israel, but they were taken out by Assyria and King Manasseh was King of Judah aka SOUTHERN KINGDOM) will not be brought in into exile

  • Isaiah is killed by King Manasseh way before Babylon came into power

  • BUT…

  • In Isaiah Ch 22 it talks about two individuals

  • One is SHEBNA

  • One is ELIAKIM

  • Shebna is the one who is over the household in Isaiah 22:15

  • The one over the household is the Hebrew term AL HABAYIT

  • AL is over

  • HA is the

  • BAYIT is house

  • Shebna is over the house, the AL HABAYIT

  • We have encountered Shebna and Eliakim in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles

  • Shebna is basically the PRIME MINISTER of the kingdom

  • The King is in charge

  • The AL HABAYIT is the PRIME MINISTER

  • When the King is away, Shebna aka the AL HABAYIT has all of the authority of the KING

  • Why is this INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT?

  • Because what happens is that Shebna uses this power to exalt himself

  • He goes and hews himself a tomb in a rock

  • Because of this, the Lord God says, “No no. Listen, you have misused your role. You have misused your authority. You have misused your power. And because of this, I will thrust you out of your station and bring in Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah.”

  • Here is why this is so important

  • If you have ever read The Gospel of Matthew Ch 16 then you are VERY FAMILIAR WITH THIS LANGUAGE

  • In Matthew Ch 16, Jesus goes to Caesarea Philippi and he asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

  • The disciples answer, “Jeremiah? Isaiah? John the Baptist? One of the prophets? Elijah?”

  • Jesus then says, “Nope, none of those answers are correct. Who do YOU say that I am?”

  • SIMON stands up and says, “You are the Messiah. You are the Christ. You are the Holy One of God.”

  • Jesus then says to Simon, “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, my Heavenly Father did. Therefore, your name is now ROCK.”

  • PETER aka PETROS means ROCK

  • “And upon this ROCK I will build my CHURCH and the Gates of Hell WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HER.”

  • Jesus is saying VERY CLEARLY, “I will build my rock upon you, Peter.”

  • “Your name is Peter (PETROS)”

  • “And I will build my Church upon this ROCK (PETROS)”

  • “And the Gates of Hell WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT”

  • And then Jesus goes on to say, “I will give you the KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. What you open, no one shall shut. What you shut, no one shall open.”

  • This is why Isaiah Ch 22 is SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT

  • In Matthew’s Gospel, one of his INTENTIONS is to let us know that JESUS IS THE KING and He is ESTABLISHING THE KINGDOM

  • REMEMBER!!

  • Jesus is the FULFILLMENT of the ENTIRE OLD TESTAMENT

  • Think about right now where we are in Isaiah and Nahum

  • This DESTRUCTION

  • The TEN TRIBES OF THE NORTH are GONE

  • Assyria has already destroyed them

  • The TWO TRIBES IN THE SOUTH are SO SMALL AND SO SCATTERED

  • EVERYTHING IS AWFUL!

  • BUT…

  • There is this PROMISE that THERE WILL BE A KING

  • Matthew is making it SO SO CLEAR

  • JESUS IS THAT KING!!

  • Jesus is ESTABLISHING A KINGDOM

  • The ROLE of the King is to ESTABLISH THE KINGDOM

  • It’s not just about Jesus

  • IT IS ALSO ABOUT THE KINGDOM HE IS ESTABLISHING!!

  • In that KINGDOM, there is the role called the AL HABAYIT

  • Just as there was in the KINGDOM OF JUDAH

  • The role of the AL HABAYIT says what?

  • Isaiah 22:22, “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” 🤯🤯🤯

  • So in Matthew Ch 16 and Jesus asks the question, “Who do you say that I am?”

  • Simon answers

  • Jesus CHANGES his name from SIMON to PETER (ROCK)

  • CEPHAS (ARAMAIC) means ROCK

  • “I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. What you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven. What you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”

  • Every one of those other Apostles, ALL OF THEM, are thinking, “Oh my gosh...Isaiah Chapter 22 (Now they didn’t have chapters back then)”

  • But they are thinking, “Oh my GOSH. Isaiah. This is the role of the AL HABAYIT!”

  • Here is Jesus who has established himself as the KING in the KINGDOM!!

  • Here is PETER who is made into the FIRST AL HABAYIT!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • THE FIRST PRIME MINISTER!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • In Isaiah 22:21, “And I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your belt on him…”

  • These are signs of an OFFICE

  • These are signs of AUTHORITY

  • “I will commit your authority to his hand.”

  • So this is a role that has AUTHORITY, the AL HABAYIT, that Peter has now been given

  • BUT…

  • It goes on to say, “and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.”

  • It’s NOT just a role of GOVERNING

  • It is a role of FATHERING

  • And we know that the SUCCESSORS of PETER have ALWAYS been considered to be the AL HABAYIT

  • We know that Jesus is the ONE KING of the Kingdom He has established

  • BUT…

  • When Jesus made Peter the AL HABAYIT in Matthew 16, then EVERY ONE OF THE SUCCESSORS OF PETER (Peter died as the Bishop of Rome) are the AL HABAYITS

  • They are the PRIME MINISTERS

  • We call them THE HOLY FATHER

  • Think about this

  • WE CALL THEM THE POPE

  • Why do we call them the POPE?

  • Because it is the Anglicized version of the Italian form of the word, PAPA!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • PAPA MEANS FATHER!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • What does it say in Isaiah 22:21?

  • “He shall be a FATHER to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.”

  • TO ALL THOSE IN THE KINGDOM, HE IS A FATHER

  • HE IS NOT THE KING!

  • The KING is the ACTUAL FATHER TO THE NATION

  • BUT…

  • The AL HABAYIT serves in this role of not just AUTHORITY

  • Not just GOVERNING

  • Not just GUIDING

  • BUT…

  • Also in this INCREDIBLE SPIRITUAL WAY OF BEING A FATHER!!🤯🤯🤯

  • It’s INCREDIBLE that Isaiah Ch 22 is FULFILLED in Matthew Ch 16!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • That is something DEFINITELY WORTH PRAYING ABOUT!!

  • IT IS CHALLENGING!!

  • You may have grown up thinking the PAPACY is a MEDIEVAL INVENTION or INVENTED LATER ON in the life of the Church

  • NOPE!!!

  • IT CAME FROM ISAIAH CH 22!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • There is this role of the AL HABAYIT

  • In Matthew Ch 16 Jesus made SIMON into PETER and then made PETER into the AL HABAYIT!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • It’s interesting because we do have BAD POPES, right?

  • We also have FAILURES of Popes, right?

  • Peter himself was A FAILURE as well

  • PETER DENIED KNOWING JESUS!!!

  • AND YET...

  • What does Jesus do with Peter at the end of the Gospel of John?

  • Jesus says, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

  • Peter replies, “Yes, Lord. You know I love you.”

  • Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep.”

  • Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

  • Peter replies, “Yes, Lord. You know I love you.”

  • Jesus replies, “Tend my lambs.”

  • Jesus asks a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

  • Peter replies, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

  • Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep.”

  • Even though Simon/Peter/Cephas had FAILED in his role, Jesus RESTORED HIM TO HIS ROLE

  • That’s the thing we TRUST IN SO DEEPLY

  • JESUS CAN RESTORE!!

  • Jesus had CHOSEN a bad Pope!

  • Peter ENDED UP GREAT

  • BUT…

  • Peter was not great ALL THE WAY THROUGH

  • AND YET…

  • Peter had the role of the AL HABAYIT

  • The Catholic Church has had an UNBROKEN LINE of his SUCCESSORS as BISHOPS OF ROME 🤯🤯🤯

  • OF AL HABAYIT 🤯🤯🤯

  • OF THE PRIME MINISTER 🤯🤯🤯

  • OF THE HOLY FATHER

  • DOWN UNTO THIS DAY!!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • You might not LIKE that interpretation

  • You might not AGREE with that interpretation

  • BUT…

  • Hopefully now you know, if you never knew, where Catholics get the idea of the POPE in the first place

  • WE DIDN’T JUST MAKE IT UP IN THE 1500s!!!

  • WE DIDN’T JUST MAKE IT UP IN THE EARLY CHURCH!!

  • WE DIDN’T MAKE IT UP AT ALL!!!

  • IN FACT…

  • It comes when the OLD TESTAMENT is FULFILLED in Matthew Ch 16!!! 🤯🤯🤯

  • WE LIVE IT EVERY DAY!!

  • Here’s the thing...Here’s the GREAT NEWS ONCE AGAIN

  • What does Isaiah say?

  • “He will be a FATHER to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.”

  • If you are part of the Church, the KINGDOM OF GOD, JESUS IS THE KING

  • JESUS GAVE YOU A HOLY FATHER ON THIS EARTH

  • IT’S NOT JUST FOR CATHOLICS!!

  • Jesus gave this ROLE OF THE AL HABAYIT to ALL THOSE who are PART OF THE KINGDOM!!!

  • WHICH IS A GIFT!!!

  • It’s a gift that Fr. Mike is so grateful for

  • Hopefully it is a gift that, if you can, you can receive with GRATITUDE AS WELL!!

  • OK, this might have been CHALLENGING

  • It might NOT have been CHALLENGING

  • Hopefully, it was ILLUMINATING!! (I’d venture to say it was MIND BLOWING!!🤯🤯🤯)

  • Hopefully, you realize that God keeps giving us gifts EVEN WHEN WE DON’T REALIZE IT FOR ALL OF OUR LIVES

  • God has brought us here to Day 201 PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER

  • FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU

  • PRAY FOR FR. MIKE


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much for your faithfulness. We thank you for your goodness, your justice, and your righteousness. Help us to live in righteousness. Help us to live in right relationship with each other, and with you above all things. Lord God, help us to have right hearts in ourselves and not be our own enemies, our own worst enemies. But Lord God, help us to have that knowledge, that wisdom that we actually do speak what is true, we live what we know to be true, and we cling to you above everything else in this world. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”